Federal Officials Charge Russian Spy Operating in DC

This week, federal officials charged Mariia Butina, a 29-year-old Russian citizen living in Washington D.C., “with conspiracy to act as an illegal agent of the Russian government, including attempting to establish ‘back-channel’ relationships with U.S. officials on behalf of the Kremlin,” according to Politico.

Butina “was arrested Sunday in connection with what an FBI agent described in court documents as a ‘Russian influence operation’” and was ordered to be held pending a hearing scheduled for yesterday.

It is alleged that Butina, “while attending a university in Washington, worked from 2015 until at least February 2017 as a Kremlin agent under the direction of a high-level official in the Russian government and Russian central bank.”

Although he is not specifically named, Politico suggests that the reference “appears to refer to Alexander Torshin, an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin and longtime supporter of the National Rifle Association who reportedly also has ties to Russian security services and organized crime figures.”

Butina is said to have entered the United States as a student in 2016, “but the scheme she was working on dated to 2013,” according to prosecutors. Butina worked to position herself to better “act as an agent of Russia inside the United States by developing relationships with U.S. persons and infiltrating organizations having influence in American politics, for the purpose of advancing the interests of the Russian Federation.”

She allegedly pursued this effort “by making multiple trips from Russia to the United States and then by obtaining a student visa and living in the nation’s capital,” where “one of Butina’s missions was to establish ‘unofficial lines of communications with U.S. politicians and political organizations.’”

Posted in The Takedown

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